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THE BOY WHO WOULDN'T SPEAK

Berry, Steve
Illustrated by Deirdre Betteridge Toronto, Annick Press, 1992. 32pp, paper, ISBN 1-55037-230-0 (paper) $4.95, ISBN 1-55037-231-9 (library binding) $14.95. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP


Pre-school to Grade 2/Ages 3 to 7

Reviewed by Patricia LM. Butler

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September


Owen is a happy, normal little boy but he won't speak! Not to his mother, his father or his brother. The doctor says he will talk when he is ready, and Owen smiles a happy agreement.

When Owen is six, two giants move into his neighbourhood. The three became best friends. Fred and Lola teach him to waltz and play cards, help him with his homework, and bake cookies to go with their hot ice cream. However, a sadness grows as time passes, and no one in the neighbourhood comes to welcome the different new couple. Then the giants become angry when they receive a letter from the community telling them to go home. When the people of the street march up to Fred and Lola's door, Owen finally has something important enough to say to make him speak to the group.

It would appear to an adult reader that the story takes a rather heavy-handed approach to tolerance for differences. However, this book is requested again and again by youngsters and has generated some interesting and useful discussion. The full-page illustrations complement the text, providing detail from a delightful "slant."

This is an enjoyable, imaginative approach to a subject worth much discussion both in the classroom and in the home.


Patricia LM. Butler is a former teacher-librarian in West Vancouver, British Columbia.

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